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Ettina

Research study on the prevalence of aromantic and varioriented people

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http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15538605.2016.1233840

 

This study asked a random sample of 414 Americans to answer who they were sexually attracted to (same sex, opposite sex, both or neither) and who they were romantically attracted to (same options).

 

Almost 1% were aromantic and .7% were asexual.

 

10.5% were varioriented (mismatched sexual & romantic orientation). Within that group, 56.8% were heteroromantic bisexual, with the rest split between various orientations. Overall 84.1% of varioriented people were allo/allo and bisexual or biromantic. Only 4.5% of varioriented allo/allos had no overlap in the two attraction types (all homoromantic heterisexuals).  

 

Alloromantic asexuals made up 4.6% of varioriented people (.5% of the total population) and aromantic allosexuals (all heterosexual) made up 6.8% of varioriented people (.7% of the total population).

 

More studies are needed, and bigger sample sizes. But since the asexuality prevalence roughly lines up with other estimates, I'm guessing it's probably roughly accurate. 

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How interesting.
How varied was the age? If it matches the overall population then I'm expecting the number of asexual and aromantic people to grow in the future since younger people are probably more aware of them.

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18 to 65 years, mean 27.08 with a standard deviation of 8.18.

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On 2/5/2017 at 9:51 PM, Ettina said:

Almost 1% were aromantic and .7% were asexual.

I never imagined the prevalence being so low.

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13 hours ago, DeltaV said:

I never imagined the prevalence being so low.

I'm surprised it is so high. From my experience I'd have more guessed that aros would be something more like one in ten thousand.

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I never imagined being in a 1% group.... :)

 

I guessed the prevalence would be much higher than asexuality (of which I knew it was ~1%), like 3% – 5% and especially common in men.

 

Also, wouldn't historically be much more selective pressure against asexuality than aromanticism?

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It's hard to say which would be under more pressure historically because there's not many (if any) historical records of people dealing with it. However sex was usually something behind closed doors you don't talk about whereas romance was out in the open and expected. I think both would be difficult to deal with.

 

I will say that for the modern age, sex is a physical act and while it may be hard to identify a lack of sex drive, now that there's a word for it and asexuality is more commonly accepted, it's easier to come across and relate to than in history. Aromanticism may be a different story because love is a concept and it can be easy to tell yourself you feel it when you don't know what it's supposed to feel like. On top of that, western society is heavily romanticised with love being the end goal for a lot of things and aromanticism is not widely known or understood. I don't think there has been as much progress other than general LGBTQIA+ understanding. 

 

With that in mind I wouldn't be surprised if there were more people who were on the aromantic scale and just haven't thought of it deeply or don't know it's a possibility. I may be wrong but thats my 2 cents. 

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4 hours ago, DeltaV said:

I guessed the prevalence would be much higher than asexuality (of which I knew it was ~1%), like 3% – 5% and especially common in men. 

 

Not sure about the "and especially common in men" part. Women are arguably socialized to display more overtly romantic extrinsic behaviors and tastes than men (with men often socialized in the complete opposite direction - to outright deride anything 'mushy' like that). But I don't know if that would make them intrinsically more romantic. I found this article interesting.

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5 hours ago, NullVector said:

 

Not sure about the "and especially common in men" part. Women are arguably socialized to display more overtly romantic extrinsic behaviors and tastes than men (with men often socialized in the complete opposite direction - to outright deride anything 'mushy' like that). But I don't know if that would make them intrinsically more romantic. I found this article interesting.

Yeah, I don't think there's much of a gender difference. I read a study once that was examining how teenagers felt after a break-up, and the boys and girls reported basically the same emotions to the same intensity.  

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12 hours ago, NullVector said:

Not sure about the "and especially common in men" part. Women are arguably socialized to display more overtly romantic extrinsic behaviors and tastes than men (with men often socialized in the complete opposite direction - to outright deride anything 'mushy' like that). But I don't know if that would make them intrinsically more romantic. I found this article interesting.

When it comes to normative gender roles they are often different in ways that "more" or "less" dosn't really make much sense.

Looking at the questions mentioned in the article.
 

Quote

“There will only be one real love for me,"

Sounds like the "soulmate" nonsense.
 

Quote

“If I love someone, I know I can make the relationship work, despite any obstacles,"

How about things like compatibility, shared interests and values?

 

Quote

"The person I love will make a perfect romantic partner; he/she will be completely accepting, loving, and understanding.”

I'm not interested in having this kind of partner. Also someone being accepting and understanding of me seems rather mutually exclusive with the romantic meme.

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Please don't understand what I wrote as skepticism of the study, that's just how I felt before I read it. I trust the study more than my prejudices, because I still suffer from the typical mind fallacy, which has deceiving powers close to the Cartesian demon. ;)

 

@princessyuuji I think you misunderstood me. :) I just mused a bit about the influence of natural selection. Today (because of contraception) most children in developed countries will be born to parents with a strong romantic bond and who have a desire to have children. But in earlier times? Asexuality should have more strongly impacted fitness than aromanticism. Yet we see that both have a similar prevalence... so, it's another failed evo-psych speculation... 

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I believe the evolutionary theory for why people feel romantic feelings is that it was extremely difficult to be a single mother in our evolutionary environment. So in order to successfully raise children, it was very important that the father and mother be committed to each other and work together. Which would make aromanticism almost as bad evolutionarily as asexuality.  

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15 hours ago, Ettina said:

I believe the evolutionary theory for why people feel romantic feelings is that it was extremely difficult to be a single mother in our evolutionary environment. So in order to successfully raise children, it was very important that the father and mother be committed to each other and work together. Which would make aromanticism almost as bad evolutionarily as asexuality.  

I'm rather skeptical about mentioning romanticism in connection with human evolution at all.
Since the term "nuclear" family is about 70 years old. Such families only appear to be mentioned from the 17th century. With romance itself starting around the 15 century.

It's only within about the last century that romantic relationships have become so highly normative too. Which I suspect is the reason that aros now stick out. Possibly in the past it would have been those allos who could only do "romantic type" relationships who would have struggled. The majority of alloromantics do appear to be capable of QP relationships.
 

There is also the theory that for most of our time on Earth humans lived in tribal social structures similar to Chimps and Bonobos. Especially prior to agriculture. Here pairing behaviour would most likely be disruptive to the group co-operation needed for hunter gathering. Including being able to drive away other large predators.
 

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2 hours ago, Mark said:

There is also the theory that for most of our time on Earth humans lived in tribal social structures similar to Chimps and Bonobos.

I want to live this way.... :(

2 hours ago, Mark said:

Since the term "nuclear" family is about 70 years old. Such families only appear to be mentioned from the 17th century. With romance itself starting around the 15 century.

To me, if you look at old texts, descriptions of romance are not so far off from what we see today. For example, what about Pyramus and Thisbe? If this isn't just a corny romance story, I don't know what is.
 

I think that back then they just had to be much more pragmatic. You just couldn't follow any romantic impulse you had.

 

I accept that the idealization of romance as something sacred, not to be questioned, not to be compromised about, the elevation of romantic relationships as the only REAL human relationship besides those between closest family members is something modern.

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4 hours ago, Mark said:

There is also the theory that for most of our time on Earth humans lived in tribal social structures similar to Chimps and Bonobos. Especially prior to agriculture. Here pairing behaviour would most likely be disruptive to the group co-operation needed for hunter gathering. Including being able to drive away other large predators.

Hunter gatherer groups have marriages:

 

 http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0019066

 

I think valuing romantic partners more than friends is very new, though.      

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@DeltaV My bad! ^_^ 

 

Personally, I want to believe romanticism is not part of evolution but I recently learned that marriage is one of the few universal concepts in culture. I'm guessing, because humans and pre humans had bigger brains at the expense of being helpless for so much longer, it was more beneficial in natural selection to seek out a single mate and share the responsibility of keeping the child alive for years, therefore the children with romantic parents were more likely to live, etc. 

 

Although this idea that 'romantic love is the meaning of life' is definitely a modern construction. The idea of marriage at it's base is only a contract between two people (or more) willing to stay together. As humans we need motive to do that and our motive is this romantic emotion - so obviously it's going to be prevalent in ancient societies and fiction but the value and meaning we place on it is going to vary. Arranged marriage, for example, shows that in some societies the romantic part of partnership comes second to the economic or social values of marriage. 

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On 13 February 2017 at 0:06 AM, princessyuuji said:

I'm guessing, because humans and pre humans had bigger brains at the expense of being helpless for so much longer, it was more beneficial in natural selection to seek out a single mate and share the responsibility of keeping the child alive for years, therefore the children with romantic parents were more likely to live, etc.

Even if that's the case, they still had tribes, where whole groups of people would look after the children, so it wasn't just limited to only 2 parents. They probably valued friends more back then, and had bigger families all living together.

 

Even if natural selection caused romantic feelings, there's still a reason why we exist. Maybe to accomplish all the things the other people don't have time to do because they're too busy getting high on their romance drugs... or to remind them that there are other things that matter too... something like that maybe. :P 

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On 2017-02-13 at 11:30 PM, SoulWolf said:

Even if natural selection caused romantic feelings, there's still a reason why we exist. Maybe to accomplish all the things the other people don't have time to do because they're too busy getting high on their romance drugs... or to remind them that there are other things that matter too... something like that maybe. :P 


The key, I think, is that evolution does not equate "survival of the fitest" but rather "survival of the fittest group". We humans were made to complement each other. A family which has one aromantic uncle who looks out for the overall well being of the family rather than just his own offspring will probably do better.

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On 2/28/2017 at 7:25 PM, Holmbo said:

The key, I think, is that evolution does not equate "survival of the fitest" but rather "survival of the fittest group".

That's the deep question of what the unit of selection may be ... Is it genes? Individual organisms? Species?

 

I guess there is probably a reluctance to openly admit that this poses a conceptual difficulty for ET (because of the “Omg, I knew it, creationism was true all the time”-problem), but I can't help to think it does. If it weren't so, why is the consensus still lacking?

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Epigenetics fit the description almost perfectly. Romantic behavior has clear benefits to evolutionary fitness, but epigenetics don't always follow the patterns that basic genetics do. I'd stake my career as a biologist on the idea that there's a methyl group tacked onto the promoter sequence of some gene that codes for pair-forming behavior reward, and that's what makes our spectrum exist in the first place.

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@James White I'd really like to one day collect the methylisation patterns of as many aromantic people as possible and train a neural network with them. This would finally be a way to have an easy test if somebody is aromantic.

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